I’m Jerry, Photoshop addict, HTML afficionado, and sometime photographer. This is not my face. If I showed you my real face, I could be accosted by alien-groupies asking for the best place to run into our visiting friends, or can I please get a message to Norva from Don Lemon at CNN… I hate that.
Let the record show that I have no contact information for any of the Alien visitors that appear in any of my pictures.
Their departure was as sudden and mysterious as their arrival. I have no present way to ask them to return for a second visit or appear in your documentary for Netflix.
Because of the recognized human proclivity for violence and irrationality, they’ve been prevented from having contact with humans since Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast, except by special permission. As I explained to the FBI, Homeland Security, and the Men in Black, it’s a mystery why they chose to communicate with me. They didn’t think to tell me, and I didn’t think to ask them. For all I know, my name was picked out of a hat.
During the visit, I was allowed to photograph select members of the visiting party, but not their technology. I was also rewarded with lots of Indian food (Chicken Biryani, Vegetarian Samosa, Garlic Naan, Daal Soup, Cucumber Tomato Salad and Salmon Curry), which we all consumed with red Italian wine and ice-cold Diet Coke
I recall mostly my conversations with Norva.
Time and memory seemed to do funny things in the presence of Alien technology. They explored my apartment with great curiosity, looking at books, movies, cds, magazines, action figures, furniture, items in the refrigerator. I sensed a curious sense of pleasure at finding Steve Martin's Cruel Shoes, which they considered wildly puzzling and introspective.
After an early dinner we hung out at my place for hours. Some Aliens watched a season two episode of Star Trek Enterprise in which two Vulcans go back to small-town-USA in the mid-1950s… but I don’t recall this clearly.
Others were fascinated by my artbooks, and we spent time looking at coffee table tomes on M.C. Escher and Ralph Steadman, ignoring traditional “Leonardo” and “Raphael” classics.
My vintage GoldStar microwave oven was a source of amusement, though I can’t recall the details… something about it being the only kitchen-tool in the Western Hemisphere that can be spotted from orbit when used… and may have been a factor in their choosing to visit me. (Sure, I’d prefer a newer one. But then this one becomes landfill, so, as long as it works...)
What I can say with certainty is that our alien visitors are friendly with a good sense of humor and deserve a warm welcome. They traveled millions of miles to watch our movies, consume ice cream, pizza, beer… to hear the music of John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie. It’s not the ecological curiosities of our planet that interests them, but our cultural expressions and achievements. It is the breadth and beauty of a self-destructive species’ creative output that fascinates them. The Nero-like fiddling of artists and politicians as the ocean levels rise incrementally.
Some visiting Aliens trained for years for the moment when they would stand next to a human shopper at Safeway, in the 15-items-or-less line… with a basket of groceries on their arm. To my surprise, I learned that the content of those baskets is a source of great amusement in some of their late-night broadcasts.
To those of us waiting in line to pay for our goods, the Aliens look “normal,” often wearing what appear to be iWatches, but are devices to cloak their true appearance. They can stand out, in colorful layers and very modern haircuts, with more bling than you’d wear if you were a busy human (earrings, buttons, pins, decorations, scarves and possibly a matching hat and fancy glasses).
Their experiences are transmitted back to their home planet where they’re shown on the evening video… In some markets this is the most popular feature.
Other visitors won a trip to Earth after being the proper-numbered caller in a contest. Some were hand-picked by their peers for a special journey of exploration and discovery, as was Norva, my new, temporary Alien buddy.
The sad fact is that most of our alien-visit movies get it wrong. Aliens don’t want to conquer us or go to war with us. They’re explorers, academicians, voyeurs. Vacationers looking for a good time. Workaholics on a psychiatrically prescribed break from whatever grind they’re escaping from.
Some are stand-up comedians looking for material.
Norva said that a recent survey of visiting aliens revealed that 98% of space-traveling-species outgrew war-like behavior thousands of years ago. They prefer to explore the universe and indulge in a bag of corn chips while binge-watching Deep Space Nine… to gorge on pleasure and science… to explore art and literature from many cultures, particularly from cultures that went on to destroy themselves through war or by accident, as Norva has predicted for us. (That’s why they’re so interested in our planet. They think we’ll be gone within 100 years, or full-time swimmers.)
Only 3% of respondents said they were here under ulterior motives, like hiding out from an angry spouse or hoping to score a genuine un-shredded Banksy. 15% were on their honeymoon and 10% were on a secret trip with an illicit lover. 25% said their parents or grandparents visited Earth once and highly recommended it, though it was much safer when the planet only had 4 billion inhabitants.
And, for the record, I disagree with Norva’s 100-year prediction. I give us at least 200 more years… though I do think it is in our nature to destroy ourselves. But what do I know? I was surprised when Donald Trump was elected in 2016. Norva said they saw it coming over 100 years ago. “It was bubbling just under the surface,” he said.
Since most of us humans are functionally unaware of our impending doom, why wouldn’t they warn us? What’s the point of just watching us destroy ourselves without trying to help us overcome our Trumps and Putins?
This is where our cultural differences, and limitations with the language translators may have prevented a deeper understanding. Norva seemed to imply that it “didn’t count” if they saved us. And I think he implied that our survival could be bad for the cosmos… but that came after three Tequilas, and as many Dos Equises, served over the aural cushion of “It’s Monk’s Time.”
Visiting Aliens sure know our Jazz, claiming that there’s nothing like it in the Universe.
“Isn’t our jazz legacy enough to warrant an effort to save us?” I asked.
“Normally, yes,” said Norva. “Except for the fact that Earthers replaced Jazz with Rock… with easily bastardized and commercialized Rock… MTV rock, even.” Normally, he said, this fact alone would have warranted “nuking the planet from orbit…” I think and hope this was Norva’s attempt at humor.
It occurs to me that Aliens could be misreading and thus misinterpreting our cultural and political history… and they may be thinking that we deserve our fate… that we’ve earned it. And based on careful analysis, it would be difficult to argue the opposite.
Suddenly their visit seems creepy and morbid, like spending time with a death row inmate and asking them if they plan to watch the last episode of “Ozark” before the execution.
My recollections of hanging out with Norva and the Aliens fade a little more each day, which is why I attempted this… memoir. I fear that one day it will all seem like fiction. Yet it also seems that if we can be more welcoming to the visiting aliens among us, we’ll uncover secrets about ourselves that will help us avoid our own doom… I know this seems silly, but I believe that’s what Norva wanted me to recall from their visit. And to pass it along as if it was my own idea.
- eNd -
NOTE: February 20, 2022. Sunday.
I’ve no recollection of this event or of photographing these “characters.” And I can’t locate any “evidence” that would help me prove this incident is real. Nor would I try.
The human head comes from the Ash Williams figure, of which there are significantly more heads than bodies.